The Visit and After by Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam (January 29, 2015)

As Indians, let us sit back and think for a while about what we got from the high-profile visit of President Barack Obama. Two tangible and one intangible outcomes are visible at this moment, about 72 hours after the visit ended.

The first and foremost seems to be the reassurance coming from a common Indo-US stance on china’s rise and how to deal with the fearsome dragon. That this point is number one becomes clear from the first 45 minutes of Modi-Obama parleys dedicated to this subject. Naturally, China took note and made appropriate noises.

This means we will have US backing for a more assertive Indian posture at the Line of Actual Control (LOAC) with China like strong patrolling, border-road building in advance areas, ferrying of military hardware to the forward areas, and larger deployment of our forces. It also means greater military cooperation with China’s immediate neighbours like Japan, South Korea and Vietnam, countries that have border dispute with China.

Whether it is Spratly Islands or Parcel Islands, or South China Sea, India’s interests are more firmly aligned now to the opposite sides of China to the disputes. India is now on the same side as America is. We have to keep in mind that being on the side of America is not always, and in every situation, advantageous. America was on our side in the 1962 war with China: it sent us military advisers and weapons during the war, but we could not make any great use of it.

On the other hand, it sent in its 7th Fleet during the Indo-Pak war on the side of its ally, Pakistan, but we prevailed in the war. It is not America who will win our war for us, but we ourselves will have to do it. We can’t, and shouldn’t, depend too much on anyone and rely primarily on our own resources. Others have their own agenda to push before thinking of our interests.

The second most important point is our quiescence in American position on the nuclear liability issue. We have agreed that the liability for accidents in America-provided reactors will be our own. Just imagine, God forbid, if something like Three Mile Island (US) or Chernobyl (former USSR) happens in India, can we afford to foot the bill without the manufacturer sharing the burden at all? The worst, and most painful side of it is the BJP’s summersault on the issue.

This party, which wasted years opposing the Nuclear Liability Bill has suddenly changed stance and embraced it, just like Baba Ramdev who promised to bring home all the black money stashed abroad within a week of NDA’s coming to power, and has now forgotten that pre-poll promise.

The third outcome is of an intangible, moral nature. On the morning of January 27, a little before leaving, President Obama told the country that it would succeed only if it did not get splintered on religious lines. That should have been good advice for Sangh provocateurs, who have been busy splintering the country on religions lines. President Obama referred to our Constitution to make his point, but the Sangh has no respect for it as shown by NDA’s insistence on “debate” over the “secular” and “socialist” clause of the Preamble, in order to finally delete them as they have already done in their advertisement. Already newspapers are carrying reports of new “ghar wapsi” conversions and poisonous speeches of men like Togadia.

In our country, 11 million girlchildren “disappear” every year, which shows our misogyny as a society. Mr. Obama also talked about the need for gender sensitivity. Like religious tolerance, this too is not likely to come easy, not as long as the Sangh and its political front are in power.

 

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